Peek under the corner to see the building ;)

Architecture films in the program of Kumu Documentary

The series of films on architecture in February is dedicated to the building processes of big cultural objects. Why are scandals, continuous arguments and political games so common while constructing cultural buildings? We follow the fate of Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, Oslo Opera House and the National Library in Prague.

February 13, 6 PM
Kumu Art Museum, Weizenbergi 34, Tallinn
The New Rijksmuseum
Dir. Oeke Hoogendijk
The Netherlands 2008, 118 min
In Dutch and English
Introduction by Kadi Polli

At the end of 2003 the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum closed its main building, to renovate it and turn it – in the words of its Director Ronald de Leeuw – into ‘the most beautiful art museum imaginable’. Spanish architects Cruz and Ortiz conceived a grand design which was to open in 2009: a modernized building embodying a groundbreaking museological concept. Film maker Hoogendijk followed the first four years of what is the Netherlands’ biggest and most ambitious cultural operation. Gigantic steel claws crushed the walls of the internationally renowned treasure-trove of Dutch art. A new museum was to rise from the ashes of the old museum. But from the very start the project was plagued by opposition from the local authority, the Dutch Cycling Union and building inspectors, to name but a few.

Again and again the architects’ designs bit the dust, and they were forced to compromise at every turn.The tortuously slow decision-making process and the continually delayed opening date eventually led to the departure of both project manager Bart van der Pot and chief curator of 20th century history Wim de Bell. Eventually Director Ronald de Leeuw also resigned. In this film we witness these developments at first hand.

When eventually even the call for tender failed, the battleground extended to include the Parliament in the Hague. Minister Plasterk was called to account. Why had he allowed the contracts to be put out to tender when he had been fully aware there was only one contractor eligible? This increased the costs to 212 million euros instead of the 134 million budgeted for: a difference of almost 80 million. The renovation is not expected to be finished before April 2013. The documentary gives us an exclusive tour of crumbled walls, disillusioned architects, the empty space left by the jewel of the Rijksmuseum collection, Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

February 20, 6 PM
Kumu Art Museum, Weizenbergi 34, Tallinn
The Oslo Opera House
Dir. Anne Elisabeth Andersen
Norway 2008, 59 min
In Norwegian and English
Introduction by Anne Elisabeth Andersen

April 2008 marked a special event: the inauguration of Norway's long-awaited opera house. Emerging from the fjord like an immense iceberg, the futuristic structure, set in the docklands of Bjørvika (central Oslo), is an extraordinary marble-and-glass vision and the Norwegian capital's pride and joy. The building was designed by Snøhetta, the Norwegian architectural firm responsible for the new library in Alexandria, Egypt, the Norwegian embassy in Berlin and the Turner Centre in Margate, England. The opera house boasts a 1,350-seat auditorium that's among the world's most technically sophisticated, as well as a smaller 400-seat hall. One can walk, picnic or enjoy concerts on its roof. Construction of the opera house, part of downtown Oslo's vast revitalization initiative, stands as proof of the political will to inject new life into the city centre. Set in the commercial and industrial port area, the building lies alongside a highway that has since been moved underground, and now tunnels beneath the fjord. Andersen's film, which involves the site's main players, chronicles Norway's biggest cultural construction project ever-a long and arduous five-year process with significant political, artistic and architectural ramifications.

February 27, 6 PM
Kumu Art Museum, Weizenbergi 34, Tallinn
The Eye Over Prague
Dir. Olga Špátová
Czech Republic 2010, 75min
In Czech with English subtitles
Introduction by architect Peeter Pere

An extraordinary tale about strongly passionate and elegant architect Jan Kaplicky with a clear vision of the future who has the biggest fight on his hands in Prague again. Shot over three years in the UK, Czech and Italy tells the powerful story of Jan Kaplicky, one of the most emotional figures in the world of architecture. His greatest unrealized architectural achievement, the new National library in Prague means the world to him. The project called the Eye over Prague is radical, exciting and far enough ahead of its time to provoke a fair degree of controversy. It represents a triumphant return to his homeland for the Czech-born émigré, a vindication of his uncompromisingly forward-looking philosophy and a tragically poetic ending to his remarkable career.

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